MHG44719 - Roundhouse or possible dun - Easter Rarichie


No summary available.

Type and Period (2)

  • DUN (Early Iron Age - 550 BC to 1 AD)
  • (Alternate Type) HUT CIRCLE (Early Iron Age - 550 BC to 1 AD)

Protected Status

Full Description

NH87SW 6 8434 7360.
Danish Fort (NR) OS 6" map, Ross-shire, 2nd ed., (1907)

Fort, Easter Rarichie: This fort is situated on a knoll which rises from lower part of NE slope of Hill of Nigg, 650 yards S of Easter Rarichie farmhouse. The remains are ruinous, having suffered from stone-robbing and encroachment of plough as well as from natural decay. They consist of several separate features, the innermost of which is a small stone-walled structure which crowns knoll. This is represented by a stony mound about 12' in thickness surrounding an area about 35' in diameter. On N arc several continuous outer facing stones still remain in situ and there is a gap in SE arc that represents an entrance. The thickness of wall suggests that structure may have been a dun (A more ruinous example of a similar structure, with an int diameter of c30' is situated on a small knoll 200 yds to W, see MHG8465). The dun stands within slight remains of a stone wall (I) which enclose an area 170' E-W by 80'. For most part this feature now appears only as a slight scarp from which a few boulders protrude. The entrance is in SE. A second wall (II) lies below this to enclose an area measuring 210' E-W by 160'. Although it is as ruinous as wall I, more loose boulders and stones occur along its course. The entrance is in E.
The ruin of wall II overlies N, S, and W arcs of rampart III, E part of which runs off beyond the points where E arc of wall II turns. This rampart, now a mere crest-line above the scarped flanks of knoll, encloses and area 300' E-W by 160'. The entrance is in E. The next line of defence is a rampart (IV) partly formed by adapting the lowest part of knoll and partly by a rubble mound. The whole of S sector of this rampart lay on level ground below knoll, and was entirely removed when land on which it was built was ploughed. The slight remains of a similar rampart (V) lie outside SE arc of IV, and appear to have been truncated in same way.
It is possible to suggest that at least 2 main structural phases can be distinguished among 6 defensive features that are crowded on to knoll, despite their ruinous condition. The original work may have consisted of rampart III as innermost line, and IV and V as its outer defences. The second phase may be represented at least by walls I and II, and possibly by dun as well. The dun, however, may represent a third, separate, phase of occupation.
NSA 1845; Name Book 1872; Information from RCAHMS TS, 15 May 1957.

A fort consisting of three ruinous walls and two outer ramparts, with a later circular structure crowning top of summit.
The latter consists of a circular turf-covered wall c3.5m thick, and 17.5m diameter with an entrance in SE. Undoubtedly a dwelling, this is more likely to be a strong hut circle, rather than a robbed dun; it overlies W arc of fort wall. This wall, representing innermost of fort defences, is reduced to a stony scarp, completely destroyed in N, and has enclosed an oval area measuring c30m E-W by 10m. Outside, is another wall (RCAHMS's wall I) which has enclosed an oval area about 43m E-W by 26m whilst third wall (RCAHMS's wall II) has occupied N, W and S rims of a steep slope above inner rampart, and is in a similar state of preservation to other two. There is no trace of rampart which it is alleged to overlie. It appears to have enclosed an area of c.67m by 50m, but has now been reduced to a slight scarp. The inner rampart, is as described by RCAHMS. The entrance, in E, is offset. As well as short section of outer rampart surviving in SE, a smaller section is evident in W. Undoubtedly this rampart, like inner one, once encircled S arc of knoll, but it has never completed circuit in N.
The defences are partly obscured by whins and bracken; the sequence of fortification and number of periods represented is uncertain, but there is little doubt that circular structure, perhaps best classified as a homestead, was constructed after fort had fallen into disuse.
Resurveyed at 1:2500. Visited by OS (A A) 18 September 1972.

A multi-period fort, with inner enclosure which may be a dun.
RCAHMS 1979.

A multivallate fort occupying a knoll which provides an excellent defensive location. The circular stone-walled structure on summit overlying innermost rampart of fort as described by F1, appears on balance to be a dun rather than a hut circle, a hypothesis based on its defensive position, its overall size and relatively thick wall, although it is severely reduced and no evidence of its construction is exposed. (See also NH87SW 8).
Visited by OS (N K B) 10 March 1981.

Geophysical and measured surveys were undertaken on the sites in January 2013 by a team from the Department of Archaeology at the University of Aberdeen. Digital measured survey plans of both hills (Easter and Wester Rarichie) were created and magnetometer and resistivity surveys undertaken on Easter Rarichie hill and the fields between the hills. Following the surveys, two phases of archaeological excavations and further geophysical surveys were undertaken in April and July 2013. Four trenches were excavated on Easter Rarichie, targeting the roundhouse, the rampart walls encircling it and a flat terrace area on the lower slopes. The excavations on Easter Rarichie identified a well-preserved stone built roundhouse with internal postholes, occupation surfaces and a paved hearth. The construction and occupation of the house has been radio-carbon dated to the period c. 200-400 BC. A trench through the two walls enclosing the summit showed these to be stone faced earth and rubble walls. Postholes, midden deposits and paved areas were identified in the areas between these walls and on the terrace area below the summit. A fragment of shale bracelet was recovered from a posthole within the interior of the roundhouse and animal bone was retrieved from a number of deposits within each of the trenches. <1>

The site is included in the Atlas of Hillforts of Britain and Ireland online database. See link below for site entry. <2>

Sources/Archives (12)



Grid reference Centred NH 8434 7359 (30m by 30m) (2 map features)
Map sheet NH87SW
Geographical Area ROSS AND CROMARTY
Civil Parish NIGG

Finds (4)

  • BRACELET (Iron Age - 550 BC? to 560 AD?)
  • WHETSTONE (Iron Age - 550 BC? to 560 AD?)
  • SCRAPER (TOOL) (Undated)
  • DAUB (Iron Age - 550 BC? to 560 AD?)

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

Related Investigations/Events (2)

External Links (3)

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